I probably shouldn’t admit this, but when I leave the office, I’m a 53-year-old laggard. A throwback to another time. There’s really nothing I can do about it. I am what I am, as Popeye would say — a little slow and a lot deliberate.
According to Everett Rogers, my laggard group makes up 16% of the population. We’re the last folks to adopt products and innovations. “Innovators,” just 3% of the populace, are on the front end of the “adoption curve.” But most of you are somewhere in the middle.
Many laggards are slow on the uptake because they aren’t paying attention — or they don’t care about cutting-edge technology. That isn’t me. I’m just cautious. I want to be SURE an innovation will really enhance my life — not complicate it — before I plunk down a pile of cash to own it. Believe me, I love new toys. Just ask my wife.
Funny thing is, at the office I’m a different character. I bought my first PC in 1985, well ahead of my friends and most of my professional colleagues. But I needed it for my business, so it really wasn’t an option. Laggard or not, I plunked down $3,500 for an IBM-XT (precursor to the lightning-fast “286” processor). I’m also among the first on our faculty to actually “do” blogging on a regular basis (though I don’t really like the “tech” side of it). And I have no phobia about learning new software, with the possible exception of InDesign, but that’s another story.
So you see, if I “need” technology to survive, I’m there. Otherwise I sit back and watch others plunge in, letting the innovators and early adopters work out the bugs and make the mistakes.
At home, I remain a borderline Luddite.
I bought my first CD player in 1994 (a 5-disc changer that still works), but that came a decade after CD music was mainstream. I waited a good 15 years to jump in on the cell phone thing, but I still don’t need one. It’s funny, because I was on the PR team that launched cellular technology in Upstate New York back in 1984.
Think of me as a dedicated observer, watching carefully what others do with innovations. Maybe that’s the educator in me. Or maybe, as the Jeff Goldblum character in The Big Chill said, that’s just another “juicy rataionalization” to help me get through the day. See, I’m even two decades behind in my contemporary references.
I can’t explain this worklife-homelife dichotomy. If an innovation intersects with the practice of public relations or my professional world, I’ll embrace it. And there’s a good chance my students will hear it from me first. Ditto for online culture. I follow it far more closely than my students. Last week I polled a group of 12 Kent Staters and only one had even heard of “Lonely Girl“; only two had visited YouTube. Half of them had read this blog, but they’re just sucking up for grades!
Blogging has helped alter my worldview a lot. So much so that I’m considering a move into the “late majority” group on the adoption curve. But before I make such a radical move, I think I’ll watch that group for a while. They may be a little too fast for me.